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Power outages decreasing, but shelter opens in Austin

From staff reports

As area residents prepare for another punch of snow and ice, some still haven’t recovered from last weekend’s first round.

On Tuesday night, Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services reported about 250 members still without power, noting the hardest hit areas included Adams, LeRoy, Rose Creek and Taopi — all in southern Mower County.

Those areas experienced about 3 inches of ice buildup on power lines, according to Freeborn-Mower, which has been posting progress reports on its Web site.

At the peak of the storm, Freeborn-Mower had roughly 2,800 members without power. Overall, the cooperative has more than 5,700 customers.

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Alliant Energy reported this morning about 3,447 customers were still without power in its northwest district, which spans across southern Minnesota and parts of northern Iowa.

In response to the continued power outages, the Mower County Chapter of the American Red Cross opened a shelter Tuesday afternoon at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Austin.

The shelter will remain open the next couple of days as more winter storms approach. People using the shelter should take along any personal medications and medical supplies, pillows, blankets and sleeping bags.

A limited number of cots are available at the church. Parents with young children also need to take diapers and formula.

As of Tuesday evening, Freeborn-Mower said 39 line workers have been assisting in the restoration effort that began Saturday morning. The cooperative reported at least 20 power poles and several power lines remain on the ground, as crews continue to find more.

About two miles of Mower County Road 19, south of Rose Creek, had been closed because of downed power poles but was expected to be reopened today, County Engineer Mike Hanson said Tuesday.

"Just in time for the next round," he added.

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